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Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Students Protest, Clash with Security Forces

The famed Al-Azhar University, an ancient center of Islamic learning, has witnessed several protests over the past few weeks as students have continued to demonstrate to show their support for the deposed president Mohamed Morsi. According to state media, around 2500 students gathered near the university in Cairo and blocked a nearby highway yesterday. Egyptian security forces responded by using tear gas. One person was injured and two were injured in different protests at a university in the governorate of Dakahlia north of Cairo. However, according to other reports, state security forces used live ammunition and pellets against the Al-Azhar students and injured several. Other clashes and protests also took place yesterday at the nearby Cairo University.

Egyptian Kung Fu Fighter Punished over Politics

Mohammed Youssef recently won a gold medal at a World Championship Kung Fu conference in Russia, but Egyptian officials are not celebrating. While receiving the medal, Youssef wore a yellow shirt emblazoned with a familiar protest sign that shows support for the deposed Egyptian president, Mohamed Morsi. The symbol, a hand with four fingers held up, is known as the ‘Rabaa’ sign and shows solidarity with the protesters who were killed in Rabaa al-Adawiya square by Egyptian security forces in mid-August.  The Egyptian Kung Fu association reacted by suspending Youssef; he could also be banned from participating in the organization for life.

 Journalist Arrests Draw Outcry

A journalist in Ismailia, a city northeast of Cairo, was arrested this weekend while filming a student protest without a permit.  Mostafa Diab, who works for Al-Madar newspaper, was filming students at Suez Canal University when he was detained by Egyptian security officers. Last week, a Syrian photojournalist was also arrested in Egypt for not having proper permits, and the two arrests have drawn the condemnation of rights groups. The Egyptian Press Syndicate Freedoms Committee also released a statement denouncing the current interim government’s “persistent repression against media professionals.”

 British Paper Leading the Counter Revolution?

A media aide to Egypt’s current president, Adly Mansour, said earlier this week that the British newspaper The Guardian had lost respectability due to its stance on the events of June 30 and was a mouthpiece for the counterrevolution in Egypt. Citing article headlines and a recent op-ed piece, Mohamed El Muslimany said that The Guardian was uninformed and that ”all its journalistic ability is copying from counter-revolution websites.” A spokesperson for the paper wrote back and refuted all claims.

US Spying Fallout Continues; Europe Debates Applying Sanctions

European heads of state are not happy with the US response to allegations that the US had been tapping phones and collecting private information about European politicians and ordinary citizens for years. Spain was outraged to learn this week that the US National Security Agency (NSA) had apparently monitored 60 million Spanish phone calls in just one month. German officials and the European Parliament are discussing suspending an agreement called the Terrorist Finance Backing Program (also known as the SWIFT agreement) which gives American officials access to bank account information to track alleged terrorists. There has been no talk of suspending the upcoming US-EU trade negotiations, though a spokesperson for German Chancellor Angela Merkel (whose personal cell phone was allegedly tapped by the NSA) said”it’s obvious to us that we have to and will bring our European convictions regarding data protection, and protection of privacy and business information, into these negotiations.”


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